A series of four water main breaks involving two pipes along some busy San Diego roadways prompted flooding and traffic woes Thursday.
The trouble began just before 9:30 a.m. when a cast-iron water main broke on Morena Boulevard at Savannah Street, sending muddy water flooding into a section of Morena Boulevard, east of Interstate 5 and west of Tecolote Canyon.
The City of San Diego Public Utilities Department said the 16-inch water main that broke was installed in the area more than 60 years ago.
Arian Collins, a spokesman for the City of San Diego Public Utilities Department, said two other water main breaks quickly followed – along the same line – this time at Frankfort and Knoxville streets.
The situation only escalated from there.
A couple of hours later, a pipe burst underneath the fourth lane of eastbound Interstate 8 near the Hotel Circle area in Mission Valley. Water gushed onto the freeway, forming a sinkhole in the road.
Traffic was shut down immediately, with commuters detoured off I-8 – some to the Taylor Street exit and others to Interstate 5.
Collins said crews were able to shut off water service in the Morena Boulevard area, but the I-8 leak was harder to tackle.
As of 2:30 p.m., some businesses and restaurants on Morena Boulevard remained without water service. Collins said the city planned to provide water wagons in the impacted area.
Meanwhile, the University of San Diego (USD) sent an alert to students and staff informing them that the “major water leak” had caused the campus to lose water pressure. The alert said water service had been shut off for some dining areas on campus. Students were given the options of a food truck, a BBQ or packaged foods until water service could be restored.
As of 4 p.m., water services had been fully restored to campus, with all dining locations following their regular schedule, according to USD officials.
Collins said some of the hotels in Hotel Circle would be affected once the water valve in that area was shut down. He said city water crews would likely work through the night to fix the pipes.
He said the causes of the breaks are under investigation, but he believes the water pressure from the first break triggered the others.